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Shotokan Karate

Gichin Funakoshi
Tsutomu Ohshima

Shotokan-ryu (松濤館流, Shōtōkan-ryū?) is a school of karate, developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi (18681957) and his son Yoshitaka Funakoshi (19061945). Gichin Funakoshi is widely recognized as having brought karate from Okinawa to mainland Japan, although Kenwa Mabuni, Chōki Motobu, and other Okinawan karate masters were actively teaching karate in Japan prior to this point. Shōtō ("pine waves") was Funakoshi's pen-name, while kan means "house." Hence, shōtō-kan was the name of the hall where Funakoshi trained his students.

Shotokan is one of the four traditional karate styles, the others being Gōjū-ryū, Shitō-ryū, and Wadō-ryū. Although it began as a unified karate school that developed into the Japan Karate Association, Shotokan now exists as several independent organizations.

Shotokan training is usually divided into three parts: kihon (basics), kata (forms or patterns of moves), and kumite (sparring). Techniques in kihon and kata are characterized by deep, long stances that provide stability, enable powerful movements, and strengthen the legs. Strength and power are often demonstrated instead of slower, more flowing motions. Kumite techniques mirror these stances and movements at a basic level, but progress to being more flexible with greater experience. Funakoshi reportedly found traditional martial arts (e.g., sumo, jujutsu, and kenjutsu) to be too focused on combat; he emphasized health, breathing, release of energy, and concentrated mind- and body-control. Shotokan can be regarded as a 'hard' and 'external' martial art.

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